New EIA investigation exposes the Chinese Government’s pangolin trade deception

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The extent to which the Chinese Government supports the continued use of pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammal, is revealed today in a new EIA report.

Four months ago, Chinese State media reported that pangolin scales had been removed from traditional medicines – but our research has found it is still business as usual.

EIA’s Pangolin Product Survey 2020, detailed in the report Smoke and Mirrors, identified:

  • 221 companies licenced to sell pangolin scale products;
  • 56 of these companies actively advertising medicinal products claiming to contain pangolin online;
  • a total of 64 products listing pangolin as an ingredient advertised on manufacturer websites;
  • six of these products available via e-commerce websites.

One of the companies identified is China’s largest traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmaceutical company, China Beijing Tong Ren Tang Group Co Ltd, which has subsidiaries across the world and whose shareholders include major European and US investment funds.

Chris Hamley, our Senior Pangolin Campaigner, said: “Amid mounting concerns about the role of wildlife trade in causing the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical that the Chinese Government ends all legal use of pangolin scales, instead of allowing the multi-billion dollar TCM industry to carry on as usual.

“The Government claims the pangolin scales used in medicines come from a national stockpile – but it is a stockpile shrouded in secrecy and never seems to run out. Demand is being met by trafficking from across Africa and Asia; the vast majority of pangolin scale shipments seized from illegal trade are ultimately bound for China.

Pangolin products found on sale in China

“By keeping the door open for the TCM industry to exploit pangolins, the Chinese Government is undermining international efforts to end the global pangolin trafficking crisis and fueling transnational organised crime.”

Earlier this year, EIA warned that while pangolin scales had been removed as a raw ingredient from the country’s 2020 Pharmacopoeia – an official reference book on traditional Chinese and Western medicines – they remain listed in some of the book’s patent medicine formulations.

The EIA investigation also found that while pangolin scale ‘yinpian’ (semi-processed scales) was removed from the list of products covered by State medical insurance in 2019, the insurance scheme has actually added an additional patent pangolin scale treatment to its list – ‘weiling guci gao’ – and continues to cover four patent medicines containing pangolin scales that were on the 2017 list.

“China urgently needs to amend its Wildlife Protection Law so that it fully prohibits the acquisition, sale or possession, including for medicinal purposes, of all parts and products of pangolins and other globally threatened species,” said Hamley, “including those from captive-bred sources.”

The report further urges shareholders to review their investments in the companies named in Smoke and Mirrors and to divest from these if they do not cease the use and sale of pangolins and other wildlife threatened by trade.






  • 221家制药企业获批销售穿山甲药品;
  • 当中有56家制药企业更在网上宣传声称含有穿山甲的药品;
  • 根据制药企业网站的宣传内容,共有64种药品的成分包含穿山甲;
  • 当中更有六项药品可通过电子商务平台购买


环境调查署穿山甲项目主任Chris Hamley表示:「由于野生动物贸易与引发新冠状病毒大流行有密切关系,对此表示关注的声音正与日俱增。中国政府应尽快禁止穿山甲片的合商业性法使用,而非继续容让资金庞大的中药行业如常运作。

政府声称入药的穿山甲片源来自国家库存 – 但相关的公开资料极少,库存亦似乎长用长有。为了满足市场庞大的需求,来自非洲和亚洲各地的走私贩运源源不绝。从被缉获的走私品来看,绝大多数的非法穿山甲片最终运往中国。

正当国际社会着力终止全球穿山甲的贩运危机,中国政府却未有全力配合,继续容让中药界利用穿山甲入药,助长跨国有组织的罪行。 」




Chris Hamley指:「中国必须尽快修改《野生动物保护法》,完全禁止穿山甲和其他受威胁物种及其制品的购买、出售或拥有,包括医药用途的使用,以及人工繁育来源的穿山甲片亦不能获得豁免。」